Why did you want to become a Vocalo Storyteller?
My mother was in radio (90.5FM) during the 1980’s at the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, where I spent many weekends and weeknights listening to her shows about love, poetry, and women’s health. She learned radio skills through community classes, where she engaged in topics relative to Spanish-speaking communities. Since then, I have been enamored with radio, storytelling, and the sonic power of good radio production. Apart from this appreciation, I am an interdisciplinary artist from Little Village, Chicago and currently Adjunct faculty at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago, so learning the powers of radio first-hand and working with the staff at Vocalo allowed me to explore the medium of radio, which was an extremely exciting opportunity for me.
Your piece in 20 seconds:
The Cook County Jail in Chicago, located at 26th and California in the Little Village Community, is estimated to hold about 10,000 detainees on any given day and 100,000 per year. As a native of Little Village, I was interested in producing a story that reflects on what it means to live next to one of the largest pre-detention facilities in the country and how the jail, at times, is both visible and invisible to the local community.
Why did you decide to tell this story?
I was born and raised in Little Village and have been long-interested in this site. A few of my friends and colleagues are working to develop a series of site-responsive art projects at the jail and this story was a way for me to begin my research and gather multiple perspectives in relation to the jail, ultimately, to prepare for the collective work that will soon begin. Upon interviewing residents, friends, and trusting strangers – I realized that the stories I gathered were important to the history and understanding of my community and I hope it allows for listeners to gain a new understanding of it through the gracious stories of my interviewees.
In what ways are you a better storyteller and/or producer?
Storytelling involves not only a good story, but also the art of good listening, good questioning, as well as pacing and timing (editing). For me, radio storytelling provides a potentially infinite sonic space for sharing in the stories that move us, challenge us, and affirm our own experiences. With the guidance of Vocalo staff and the accessible facilities at the station, I feel confident in continuing to use the powerful medium of radio for my work, with the understanding that the spirit of radio has the potential to be a space for transformation.